Thursday, June 06, 2013

Shocked about ILP

Hi Mr Tan,
I regretted not coming across your website earlier. I started working last year and I got "convinced" by my agent to sign up for an investment-linked policy.
I paid an annual premium of $4,800 and was shocked to see the semi-annual report showing a surrender value of $806.
That was when I started to google for investment policies online and after reading your article, I felt cheated, stupid and really angry as all the money that I diligently saved over the past year went down the drain (or more appropriately, into the agent's pocket).
However, I know that it is my fault as I did not do any research prior to signing up for that policy.
Instead of crying over spilt milk, can you advise me on what to do? I have a very strong urge to terminate the plan now, but is it a wise decision?

Make a guess. Which insurance company sold this policy to the young man, who felt that he was cheated?

Submitting an e-invoice

31 May 2013
Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

A few months ago, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance urged the private sector 
to improve their productivity and reduce the reliance on foreign workers.

As a small business owner, I had to spend a lot of time submitting returns and applications 
to government agencies. The online processes are poorly designed from the perspective of 
the public. I had submitted countless feedback on these issues over the years but the 
underlying problem was never addressed.

Two months ago, I received an order from a primary school for the purchase of my books. 
The teacher told me that I had to submit an e-invoice.

After considerable research, I discovered that I had to register In a website called 
Vendors@SG and to apply for an EASY access code from the Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS) 
before registration.

The process was hardly easy. The password for the EASY access code was sent by mail 
and did not arrive after 8 days.  The IRAS manager arranged for hand delivery of a 
replacement password.

The new password was not accepted after a dozen attempts on several browsers. 
The error code was puzzling.

A support staff from IRAS came to my office to help fix the problem. He said that 
the Java software installed on the browser was not the latest version. He spent 
two hours trying to fix the problem, and had to telephone his technical expert 
at the office a few times.

After this problem was fixed, I still had to go through a learning curve to find out 
how to submit an e-invoice correctly. I discovered to my horror that I had to enter 
all the details of the invoice for the benefit of the Accountant General office, but that work 
was not suitable for entry to my own accounting system. It is double work for me.

I finally managed to submit the e-invoice after a delay of two months and 
countless hours spent on learning the complex processes of the government. 
The trouble is that I do not have sufficient transactions to make the effort worth the while.

There is something seriously wrong with the manner in which the government agencies 
impose their requirements on the private sector, which leads to an unproductive process. 

I hope that the Deputy Prime Minister will ask for this matter to be reviewed, and for 
the underlying problem to be addressed.

Tan Kin Lian

Call to regulate e-payment firms

Editor, Forum Page
Straits Times

Several parties have called for regulation of e-payment firms, due to the 
recent cases of fraud involving a few unauthorized payments through Pay Pal.

I suggest that the following points be considered in a regulatory review:
  • The incidence of fraud now represents a negligible percentage of the transactions made through Pay Pal 
  • Pay Pal now sends an email to notify the customer about a payment that had been made
  • Most of the transactions made through Pay Pal are for small amounts
  • Pay Pal has a policy to compensate its customers from losses arising from fraudulent payments.
I suggest that the decision for stronger security measures be left to Pay Pal to decide, balancing the risk and 
the convenience to customers. I am a regular user of Pay Pal and find their security measures to be adequate 
and convenient.

When I make payment by credit card, I have often been inconvenienced by the need to reply with a one-time
password sent by my bank (not Pay Pal), even for small amounts. I prefer an option to specify a threshold, below which
this measure can be bypassed: I am prepared to take the risk.

Rather than ask Pay Pal to adopt the security measures imposed by our banks, I prefer that our banks should
consider adopting the measures now used by Pay Pal.

Tan Kin Lian

Free the Internet

I wish to express my support for the "Free the Internet" movement. I do not know how to unpublish this blog for one day (6 June 2013), so I shall just give this message. If anyone know how, send email to

Monday, June 03, 2013

Questionable Investments and scams

I have now starting to write the book on Questionable Investments and Scams. Here is the introduction to my book.

During the past few years, many investors had sought my assistance.
They have been the victims of investment scams or had lost money on questionable investments. Often, they were misled into making these investments.
They made the investments on the assurance of people they thought could be trusted, including the marketing officer of the bank that they had a relationship for many years.
In some cases, the financial products were risky, but the risks were not disclosed to them.
In other cases, the terms of the financial products were quite unfair to the consumers, i.e. they did not get a fair return for the risks underlying the products.
In good times, the return is mediocre. In bad times, they had to take a big loss on their capital.
Often, the marketing officers were themselves ignorant of the underlying risks of the financial products. They were trained to tell the good points about the product and had to meet high sales quota. In the eagerness to close the sale, they might have innocently misrepresented the products or given assurances that were not warranted.
Outside of the regulated financial institutions, other people sell unregulated products that bordered on being outright scams.

My experienceI came to know about these questionable investments and outright scams by listening to the experiences of investors who had fallen victims to these products.They sought my help on the steps that could be taken to recover their losses. In most cases, nothing can be done, as they are deemed to have invested “with their eyes open” and had to take the consequences of their decisions.Although it had been time consuming to listen to their sad tales, and to search for possible solutions, it has been an enlightening journey for me.

I get to know about how these scams work, or how bad financial products could be created by so-called reputable financial institutions to take advantage of naive consumers.
I wish to share some of these stories and to draw some lessons for consumers. I hope that they can help to educate consumers to avoid these bad products.

Tan Kin Lian

What to look for in a Retirement Plan offered by an insurance company

 have analyzed several "retirement plans" launched by life insurance companies recently. 

They have the following features:
a) no life insurance cover, i.e. on death only a refund of premuim
b) a yield or IRR of 2% to 3% over the very long term
c) a heavy penalty, in some cases more than 50% of the savings, on termination 

The consumer can get a much better deal by investing on their own. 

I will be writing a new PDF book to explain the features of this plan and what to look out for. In the meantime, consumers should avoid buying this plan.

Buy TKL books in PDF format and pay less

You can now buy the PDF version of my financial planning, life insurance and other books at a lower price (compared to the hard copy version) and save on the handling charge.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Books, talks and consultations

Many Singaporeans spend thousands of dollars on medical insurance that they do not really need, or cannot afford. They have a better choice. Spend $4 on this PDF book and learn how you can spend your money wisely on medical insurance.

Buy TKL Books

Wisdom on how to live life

Attend workshop on TKL cloud


Dishonesty and corruption

I want to quote this incident to show the dishonesty and corruption that is prevalent in the modern world for the past decade. 

Prior to the year 2,000, a few "experts" published papers to state that computer systems would break down on the eve of the new millennium, as they were not designed to handle this situation. It was a complete nonsense and could be easily demonstrated to be false. (I did).

The accounting and consultancy firms jumped into this concept to make money. They published papers to notify the boards of large companies about the risk and their responsibility to prevent the collapse of their companies. These firms knew that it was nonsense, but their greed and dishonesty overpowered their conscience.

Many corporate boards and government agencies spent tens of millions of dollars in consulting fees and technical solutions to avoid this imaginary catastrophe.

Many directors of these boards knew that it was nonsense, but they approved the expenses anyway, as the money went to their cronies in the consulting firms. When the retire from the board, they expect to be invited as directors or advisers to the consulting firms.

It was a grand scheme to cheat the "system". Billions of dollars must have been spent on fees and software.

Who gains? The elites in the top power echelons. Who loses, the ordinary people around the world who have to pay the price for the elites to become super rich.

This type of deception continues today. It comes in various forms, e.g. outsourcing of large IT. projects.

Singapore is very much a part of this global system of deception - both as actors and victims. I will describe them later.

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